Boyle Board of Education approves virtual BCHS graduation

Published 9:12 am Monday, May 11, 2020

The Boyle County Board of Education approved a plan submitted by a committee from Boyle County High School to provide a virtual graduation ceremony and other end-of-year celebration activities for nearly 200 Boyle County High School seniors.

The plan, presented to the board by BCHS Principal Mark Wade at a meeting last week, calls for video recording and photographs taken of each senior in the BCHS Class of 2020 during a time period between May 20 and May 22.

Seniors will be filmed one at a time on stage in front of the high school. The senior’s car and one additional car will be permitted to be in attendance. Seniors will also be photographed with their diploma.

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Also as part of the plan, all graduation speakers will be given time to present their speeches and will be filmed doing their portion of the ceremony.

The recordings will be edited together, culminating in a 2020 commencement ceremony that will be broadcast live on Youtube and other avenues at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 29. The plan emphasizes that the components have been adjusted and approved by the local health department.

Wade said students were surveyed and asked how they wanted graduation ceremonies to proceed. He said the seniors voted to go ahead and have a virtual ceremony in May as opposed to postponing until later in the year.

A committee came together to plan end-of-year events, according to Wade, and the committee consisted of teachers, parents, and several others. Board chair Jennifer Newby was also part of the committee.

“I was glad to sit in on that board,” Newby said. “It really drove it home to me. There were several teachers, as well as some parents and administrators. It really drove home the kind of impact this has had on every single person in our district. Our teachers are missing the kids as much as the kids are missing being at school with their friends and their teachers. We’re all grieving this process and it’s been hard for everybody to deal with the changes we’re dealing with now. This is a great class and I feel like this is a great way to celebrate them in a way that is keeping everyone safe as possible.”

Newby said a lot of time went into crafting this plan by the committee and many options were examined, but a lot of things the committee wanted to do simply weren’t feasible due to state regulations.

“I really applaud the committee and all the effort that went into this,” Newby said.

A campus celebration and parade are also planned for May 29 at 8 p.m. Seniors can gather in Millennium Park in cars and local law enforcement will block traffic and lead the way for cars to parade to the east entrance of the school, behind the school, and to the parking lot. The fields will be lit and there will be other displays to recognize the senior class, according to the plan.

Students will drive behind the school and teachers will be there, spaced 10-20 feet apart, to wave and celebrate the students. Students will also be given a parking area or a spot number to view the fireworks show and teachers will be able to share messages to students on a local radio station, according to the plan.

Also part of the plan is a senior recognition night, scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m. This will be virtual and prerecorded to celebrate accomplishments by the senior class.

Other graduation traditions, like the Rebel Walk, Project Graduation, and a tassel ceremony are tentatively planned for Aug. 3. More details on that are expected to be worked out as Kentucky moves into Phase Two of reopening.

Following the graduation discussion, Katie Ellis, director of food service for the district, presented a report to the board regarding the COVID-19 Food Security Initiative. With funding through the school district and a United States Department of Agriculture waiver, the district launched drive-thru services as well as home delivery services to provide children 18 and under with free breakfast and lunch.

Ellis said that by the end of April, the district had served almost 50,000 meals. The district ran eight bus routes that delivered 25,712 meals across Boyle County, and the drive-thru sites at Junction City Elementary, Perryville Elementary, Boyle County High School, Southland Christian Church, and Perryville Baptist Church provided 23,826 meals.

Ellis told the board that averages out to be between 1,500 and 1,600 meals that are provided per day.

Ellis said she was particularly thankful for the partnerships with Southland Christian Church and Perryville Baptist Church. In total, from March 17 to April 30, more than 10,000 meals were given out at Southland Christian Church and another 1,500 at Perryville Baptist Church.

Ellis said that moving forward, the district plans to continue home delivery and drive-thru sites through the end of May.

“This is a little longer than some districts, but it allows us to continue to provide a high level of service to our families during this time,” Ellis said.

In June, Ellis said they will operate drive-thru sites at select locations until the end of the month when the USDA waiver expires. In July, they will resume the traditional summer feeding program where families will sit and eat on-site for each serving period per USDA guidelines. She also noted that the staff working the program will take a one-week break in June or July to allow staff members time to take care of themselves.

“I know a lot of people that I’ve talked to in the community are very appreciative,” board vice-chair Jesse Johnson said. “During uncertain times, I’m glad that we can provide a stable form of nutrition for a lot of kids out there. So Katie, I just want to say thank you for what you and the staff have done. I know it’s been long hours and you’ve put yourselves at risk and I’m just very appreciative of all you’ve done.”

District Finance Director David Morris provided the board with a forecast of the budget for the 2020-2021 school year. He told the board he expects the district to finish the month of June with a nearly $8 million fund balance based on projected expenditures and incomes.

Wade recognized two students for outstanding achievements. Elijah Goggin was named a finalist for the National Merit Scholars, which is chosen based on academic success and performance on PSAT, ACT, and SAT exams. Goggin is planning to attend the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College and majoring in materials engineering.

Superintendent Mike LaFavers asked Goggin what he would take with him from his time in the Boyle County Schools. Goggin said the teachers he has had gave him a strong work ethic and leadership skills.

Wade also recognized Megan Rose Johnston for being a semifinalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education, which is chosen based on academic success, leadership in school and in the community, and involvement in career and technical education. Wade said Johnston is the only student in Kentucky who was selected as a semifinalist for this award.

Johnston is planning to attend the University of Kentucky, majoring in plant science/horticulture and agriculture biotechnology with plans to become an agronomic research scientist.

Johnston said that being involved in FFA at Boyle County High School was very influential and helped to motivate her to become more involved and strengthened her leadership skills.

In other news from the meeting, LaFavers offered a special thank you to Pam Tamme, the school district’s counselor, for all of her work during the pandemic. Tamme will be retiring from the district after more than 20 years of service.

“I want to recognize someone who has made a huge impact on this district for more than two decades now,” LaFavers said. “She’s retiring on June 30. Pam Tamme has been my go-to person. She and I began talking about the coronavirus in January. We were both kind of worrying about it, not knowing what it was going to become. She’s become a great sounding board for me, and then you can express different thoughts and ideas to her and she goes and makes things happen. She does that for a ton of people. You can’t name the number of people that consider her their lifeline and we just can’t replace her.”

Tamme said that being away from her coworkers as she finishes her tenure with the school district has been difficult.

“It’s been my pleasure and I’m going to be sad,” Tamme said. “But I’ll come back around after I can.”

LaFavers presented to the board a proposal to purchase three International 72-passenger school buses totaling $313,656. He said the district was trying to tighten any spending that isn’t related to COVID-19, construction projects at Woodlawn Elementary and Boyle County Middle School, the district’s safety plan, or essential day-to-day functionality of the district. LaFavers said the purchase of the buses falls into the day-to-day functionality category.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of the buses.

The meeting of the board was held virtually to comply with social distancing policies.